Learn how Keith Prader discovered a way to mitigate smoke taint on his 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, rescuing a meaningful profit from the vintage of approximately $20/bottle.
Since their first crush in 2008, Shale Canyon Wines has always been a unique, self sustaining and tight-knit family operation. Brothers Keith and Tim Prader currently run winery operations. Shale Canyon Wines prides themselves in being a 100% “off grid” photovoltaic solar powered facility in the Arroyo Seco AVA that follows rigorous sustainable principles for their vines. They currently produce about 1,500 cases per year.
Along with their estate vineyard where they are able to give hands on attention to vine conditions, they also strictly source fruit from vineyards with farming practices that are known to set exemplary industry standards. The brothers at Shale Canyon Wines are true believers in quality over quantity, achieved by focusing on an outstanding nose, mouth feel, and finish.
“Our goal is to produce a wine that’s clean on the palate, clean to the nose, with a clean finish. We want to keep everything as consistent as possible,” said Keith.
Over the years, Shale Canyon has developed a reputation of prioritizing exceptional fruit and wine quality. When their 2020 vintages of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc became noticeably smoke tainted, winemaker Keith Prader had a big problem.
“The toughest thing was I wasn’t going to be able to sell the 2020 much at all,” said Keith. “It was noticeably smoky. I didn’t want to put my name on this bottle because someone’s going to try one of these and say, I’ll never have one of these again.”
With his reputation of quality on the line, he seemed to have two options – sell a “backyard barbeque wine” with almost no profit, or find a solution to mitigate the smoke in the wine.
To solve this dilemma, Keith came to Tastry to explore his options.
To resurrect their 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, a total of 556 gallons, Tastry CompuBlend® analyzed tens of thousands of options in just a few hours and recommended the top five solutions for Keith to evaluate. The options TastryAi evaluated included carbon filtration, reverse osmosis, enzymatic treatments, non-vintage blends, and the addition of various tannins from Oak Wise products to ameliorate the smoke taint.
“It’s about saving product, but also saving your brand, because if you release something out there with your name on it and people try it and don’t like it, they won’t try it again,” said Keith. “So doing this [smoke mitigation with Tastry] saves your name, as long as the finished product is comparable. Some people may think it’s a wonderful wine and some might say my palate doesn’t care for that. It happens all the time. I think using CompuBlend® is going to save this vintage, and that will definitely make us more money.”
Taking Tastry’s recommendations into account, Keith used his expertise to finalize the best options for his Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
Keith batch tested the TastryAI recommendations, about a bottle of each blend, and then let them sit for a day before trying them. After the final taste trials, the next step was to bottle the wines and let them sit for about a year before releasing them.
The recommendations provided by Tastry’s CompuBlend® provided viable options for Keith to avoid the margin flat “backyard barbeque wine” scenario, and rescue a meaningful profit from the vintage to the tune of approximately $20/bottle.
TastryAI also analyzed the finished market-ready wines and found that 40.5 million US consumers will enjoy the Cabernet Franc and 18.5 Million US consumers will enjoy the Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Before Tastry, someone may have tried this wine and never wanted to drink my wine again. Tastry helped me save money, but it also saved my reputation.”
Founder & Winemaker
Shale Canyon Wines